RealTime IT News

HP Doubles Up on 2.5-Inch SAS Drive Capacity

Hewlett-Packard, with its partner Seagate, has announced new 300GB capacity serial attached SCSI (SAS) drives in a 2.5-inch form factor, which it claims can reduce the power required by up to 50 percent. The formal announcement and availability is set for Monday along with pricing.

Hard drives are one of the villains in datacenter power woes, and it's been a lot harder to reduce the power they need than it has been with CPUs. That's because drives have to spin as fast as possible, which generates heat and consumes power. At the same time, the volume of data these drives are expected to handle is exploding.

Whether it's user-generated or business analytics, petabye and even exabyte storage is becoming commonplace. Given the low capacity of a hard disk, that means lots and lots and lots of heat generating, power consuming drives.

Up to now, if you wanted a 300GB SAS-based drive, which spins at 10,000 revolutions per minute (RPM), it had to be a 3.5-inch drive. The 2.5-inch form factor models have had a maximum capacity of 146GB, but the new HP/Seagate drive hits the 300GB barrier.

This means putting twice as many 2.5-inch drives in a 3U drive bay as 3.5-inch drives, doubling capacity, I/O per second (IOPS) and still reducing power, said Jimmy Daley, ISS marketing manager for HP (NYSE: HPQ). The drives are generically referred to as "HP SAS drives" and primarily used in its ProLiant servers.

"Small form factor SAS brings a significant power advantage," he told InternetNews.com. He estimates that would be around 50 percent, but it could vary based on use. "The motor doesn't have as much mass to move, the platters are smaller, so the bulk of the power in physically moving the platters around is less."

Seagate brought its storage expertise to the table while HP brought its knowledge of server and storage integration, backplane design, and power and footprint engineering. The two companies worked on everything from the interface to the trays to minimize vibration.

Daley said the eventual goal is that all enterprise drives, both 10,000 RPM and 15,000 RPM, the fastest drives available, will achieve the smaller 2.5-inch form factor. "The density and reliability lend itself for a natural progression of small form factor adoption," he said.

In search of the enterprise sweet spot

Krishna Chander, senior analyst for storage at iSuppli, agreed on this point. "When they go a smaller sized drive, power consumption goes down considerably," he told InternetNews.com. But he said the 10k RPM drive is not the sweet spot of enterprise storage, 15k RPM drives are.

"The demand for 300GB drives in the 10k space has not been too high," said Chander. "The industry has been delegating 10k for archiving and 15k drives for transaction services. If it was a 300GB 15k drive, I would say it's a bigger deal."

Next page: Future developments